Calories in alcohol
All alcohol drinks contain calories. There are about 7 kcal per gram of pure ethanol, compared with 9 kcal in a gram of fat, and 4 kcal in a gram of protein or carbohydrate. Some drinks also have carbohydrates or other nutrients that naturally have calories. Also, there’ll be extra calories from the additional nutrients in some types of alcohol -- from flavourings and other ingredients that are added to make the finished product, for example. Beer and wine contain carbohydrates that are not added, but have not been distilled out so remain in your drink. Discover the number of calories and the nutrients in your favourite drink here and check out our page on the effects of alcohol on weight gain.
Did you know?
Kcals (kilocalories, often called Calories or Cal) measure the amount of energy in the things we eat or drink. Each kcal is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a litre of water by 1°C.
Nutritional values of alcohol
The four primary ingredients in beer are water, barley, hops and yeast. The Alcohol by Volume (ABV) and calories vary according to the type of beer. Some ales are 3.5% ABV, while continental lagers are higher at between 5 and 6% ABV. Calories vary from one pint of bitter at 170 calories to a pint of lager at 250 calories. Beer also includes small amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, phosphorus and niacin.
Spirits are made with the widest variety of natural ingredients and are often aged in different types of wood barrels. This is why there is a great variety in flavour and colour. A typical distilled spirit is 40% ABV, and a serving of 25 ml contains 55 calories. As spirits are often served with mixers or in cocktails, it’s worth bearing in mind that these add additional calories, and that there are lower calorie options such as herb and fruit infusions or soda water. Also, cordials and liqueurs contain more calories than a neat spirit.
Wines are made by fermenting the juice from grapes or other fruits or grains. A glass of wine (125ml) contains approximately 90 calories. Due to their natural chemical balance, grapes ferment without the addition of sugar. Most wines have an ABV of around 13%, though fortified wines can be as high as 20%.
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Alcohol and weight
Knowing the calorie count and nutritional value of your drink is one thing, but it’s also worth knowing how those calories can lead to weight gain. Discover how you can watch your weight, whilst watching what you drink.Does drinking cause weight gain?